Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prosecutor: Dad Silenced Baby's Crying; Infant Who Died Had Numerous Skull and Rib Fractures, Glynn Jury Is Told

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Prosecutor: Dad Silenced Baby's Crying; Infant Who Died Had Numerous Skull and Rib Fractures, Glynn Jury Is Told

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | A Glynn County jury began hearing evidence Tuesday in the trial of a man charged with murder and cruelty to children in the death of his infant son who, a prosecutor said, had suffered 56 rib fractures and two skull fractures when he died on Labor Day of 2012.

"Christian Powell was 83 days old when he died,'' assistant district attorney Katie Gropper told the jury in her opening statement in the trial of Willie James Stroud. Stroud, 24, is charged with two counts each of felony murder, first-degree cruelty to children and second-degree cruelty to children.

Although born small and reluctant to eat, Christian was healthy and growing from his June 13 birth date until Aug. 9, Gropper said.

That's when Christian's young mother, Chastity Powell, went back to school and Stroud became Christian's primary caregiver, Gropper said.

On the Saturday before Labor Day, Chastity Powell was changing Christian's diaper when she noticed that one of his legs was red and swollen, Gropper told the jury. She followed her mother's advice to ice the leg, and the swelling went down.

"Two days later, Christian was dead,'' Gropper said, and an autopsy at a state crime lab showed the leg had been dislocated.

Among the witnesses will be a co-worker at Winn-Dixie who said Stroud complained that Christian cried constantly and that he wasn't getting any sleep. Stroud said that others who lived in the house sometimes woke Christian to play with him and then left Stroud to deal with his crying, Gropper said.

On the day that Christian died, Powell, her mother and sister went out with a friend for ice cream and left Stroud and Christian sleeping on separate couches, Gropper said.

When they came home a few hours later, both appeared to be sleeping, but when Chastity tried to feed her son, she found him dead, Gropper said.

Powell's mother, Valerie Manor, "will tell you," Gropper said, "the baby was cold, stiff. It was pretty obvious he wasn't coming back."

Stroud at first denied to police that he had done anything to Christian, but acknowledged later that he may have dropped him, possibly while sleepwalking, and that he may have squeezed him too tightly in attempts to stop his crying, Gropper said. …

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